iPhone XR, XS and XS Max

iPhone XR, XS and XS Max

Three new iPhones were launched in October, leaving loyal Apple consumers with a head-scratcher of a decision to make: is it worth upgrading? And, if so, which one should they choose?

As ever, the choice is made all the more difficult by the fact that the standard specifications of all three phones appear to be almost identical.

Display 5.8 inches 6.5 inches 6.1 inches
Camera (back) 12MP 12MP 12MP
Camera (front) 7MP 7MP 7MP
ID Face Face Face
Processor A12 Bionic A12 Bionic A12 Bionic
Water resistance 2 meters (up to 30 minutes) 2 meters (up to 30 minutes) 1 meter (up to 30 minutes)
Charging Wireless Wireless Wireless

Unless you're super worried about the size of your display or you can't go without that extra meter of water resistance capability, you probably wouldn't detect any noticeable difference in your daily use. The devil really is in the detail - and it depends entirely on what you need from your phone.

There's also an inescapable sense that you're getting more bang for your buck with the XS Max, since the screen covers a greater proportion of the frame, leaving you without too much in the way of pointless white space.

In terms of pure practicality, your best bet is probably the supposedly streamlined XS, whose slim frame is perfect for one-handed use. along with its plus-sized cousin, the XS is also ostensibly a more durable model than many of its predecessors, as exemplified by its enhanced underwater functionality and sturdy chassis. At this price though, anything other than a long-lasting piece of kit is going to be a massive letdown.

What the XR has in its favour is its customisation options. Apple have rolled out a range of new finishes, including an electric yellow and an understated ocean blue, and they're all exclusive to the XR. Admittedly, this won't mean much if you like to kit your phone out with a cover, but with a clear case, it makes a big difference to the appearance.

Just keep in mind that the lighter colours are inevitably more prone to unsightly smudges and stains.

And then, of course, there is the small matter of price. Apple have succeeded in making the £1000 phone the norm over recent years, and that trend is going to continue in 2019 with both the XS and the XS Max (and that's just the 64MB version). If you're looking to pinch the pennies, the XR can be yours for a comparative pittance of just £750.


Apple have released three phones this year for a reason: to tighten their grip on the super-phone market - with the XS Max - while also experimenting with a more affordable model in the XR. The XS meanwhile is supposed to occupy the middle ground, and could be a shrewd buy if you can't quite make up your mind.